Thursday, December 29, 2005
Congress Failed Before the Levees Did
My wife and I spent a couple days after Christmas surveying the destruction in New Orleans. It broke her heart to see it.
TV does not show you the real devastation - it reminded me of World War II scenes of destroyed cities.
For blocks the homes are wrecked. Not a soul can be seen for miles. One or two diehards are trying, but they are doing it in toxic laden ghost suburbs like Chalmette. The photo was taken at the levee break in the Lakeview subdivision. On the left is where they are repairing one of the breaks.
The houses are filled with mold. Now they stand like dry timber on soil contaminated by chemicals that poured in with the flood waters.
At one levee I found out from the repair crew that there was not one break, but seven.
Legislation authorizing levee upgrades have sat in Congress, ignored, for YEARS. Once again, the lack of foresight by our leadership has resulted in billions in losses. Had the levees not failed, New Orleans would not have flooded - it has lost 80% of its population. It will cost FEMA billions without addressing the levee problem. I saw little construction or clean up activity. You would think that our billions of tax payer dollars would result in a little more organized activity on the ground.
Why does this concern District 22? Because DeLay was Majority Leader and could have acted on it before disaster struck. New Orleans is critical to America because it is the terminal for offshore oil from the Gulf of Mexico that drives America. It is a major coffee and sugar import port. The Mississippi River is our main north-south river of commerce moving grain from the Midwest. New Orleans is the southern terminal. If it didn't exist, we would have had to create it because of its strategic importance to our national economy.
Keep in mind that Mr. DeLay has been sitting in office for over 20 years with the power to protect the Gulf Coast yet he failed to pass the necessary legislation. Texas, while hard hit by Rita, was spared a major hit to Galveston. Maybe next time we won't be so lucky. As long as DeLay is in power, we certainly won't be more prepared.
I ordered a half Muffaleta at the Napoleon restaurant. The waiter returned and said they only had gumbo and one quarter Muffaleta left- supplies are still sporadic in the region. I took it and was grateful to have a taste of the city I love so much.